Yuki Imanishi, sake sommelier and CEO of Sake Lovers Inc., holds a bottle of Reiwashu up to her computer camera during an online tasting event. A creative workaround due to COVID-19, her passion for Japan’s national brew, and the small breweries that make it, still comes through loud and clear.

“It’s a little bit like Champagne,” she says. “Kamigokoro Shuzo did a secondary fermentation with white peach yeast for this unique sparkling sake. It also,” she adds before taking a sip, “has a hint of Okayama (Prefecture’s) famous peaches.”

At Sake Lovers Inc., which Imanishi founded in 2018, she works with a total of 100 small breweries like Kamigokoro Shuzo to promote their products and connect them directly with consumers. The majority are family-owned with only a handful of employees. Primarily located in rural areas, their local customer base is dwindling as younger people move to cities and populations decline.